KFJC 89.7FM
Album Review

Tanya Tagaq “Retribution” -[Six Shooter Records]

Devlyn   7/16/2019   A Library, CD

Oct. 21, 2016   Label: Six Shooter Records Inc.

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk (Inuit) throat singer who has become a bit of a pop star by taking the techniques commonly used in her genre of native American music and extending it to new genres.

Tagaq honed her throat singing chops as a young woman by participating in throat battles with other woman in the remote Arctic villages she grew up in. These involved 2 women standing nose to nose making ridiculous sounds trying to gross out or break each other up.

1. The fist song , (Ajaaja 2:55) is the only sorta traditional Native American song on the album. Here Tagaq has written a simple call and response between a male and female singers behind a simple Inuk drum beat rather than the complex instrumentals and voicing found in the rest of the album. If you are into indigenous music go for it. If you are looking to see how how throat techniques could be used in Experimental, Ambient, Noise, Metal, Hip Hop or Pop music dive into other tracks.

2. For example, the 2nd song (Retribution 7:57) is perfect for Lauri Anderson fans (Oh Superman) on speed. It starts with Tagaq screeching, quickly moving on to her a recital of her poem about money and God. Meanwhile the underbed of rhythmical background chants and buzzes get more and more frenetic till she sounds like the little possessed girl from the Exorcist. As with most tracks, this one features 2 or 3 other throat singers along with Tagaq.

3. (Nacreous 4:01) comes off as a noise piece that starts and ends with a male throat singer doing that thing where he sings both a high note and low note at the same time with the same set of vocal chords. Then it layers in multiple voices, chanting and screeching into an inter-weaved hypnotic trance.

4. Tagaq screeches like an Eagle at the beginning of (Aorta 3:37) over a heavy metal-worthy drum beat & deranged gnashed-teeth voicings.  “Kill or Die”

5. (Centre 3:51) Features Shad’s hip hop and Tagaq’s breathy singing.

6. (Summoning 8:57) starts with Tagaq’s breathy singing over violin, with a whole Greek chorus of 50 voices for a background.  The song gets louder and louder and more frenetic as it goes on. This one is lovely experimental music. It would feel right at home in a Lexi Glass show.

7. (Cold 6:53) is a favorite. Another Lauri Anderson-worthy poem-song. Here the poem is about the unique physics of ice and the effects of global warming. Strings saw in the background and a steady rock drumbeat and male voiced drones drive the song steadily forward.

8. (Sivulivinivut 1:49) Is one of of the pretty free-form improvisations Tagaq and her trio of voice, violin and drum like to perform on the road. Short sibilant singing and spare violin. 

9 (Sulpher 3:00) Eeery ambient noise. Monks moan, Tagaq nashes and wails, violins saw.

10 (Rape Me 4:46) The one song on this album Tagaq did not write. This one is a Nirvana cover she can relate to given her deep activism trying to help women living in the Arctic deal with sexual assault. No words the FCC might object to, but it does repeat the words Rape me over and over again in Tagaq’s soft breathy singing voice

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